UNESCO marks day in remembrance of slave trade and its abolition

UNESCO marks day in remembrance of slave trade and its abolition

One week before the opening of a major international conference against racism, the head of the United Nations cultural agency called on the world community to reflect on the link between slavery and racism in observance of the day dedicated to the abolition of the slave trade.

In a message marking the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Koïchiro Matsuura, said the slave trade had three distinctive features: its duration of nearly 400 years, its legal organization and the formulation of theories using the racial factor to justify slavery.

"This deep-rooted link between slavery and racism is generally acknowledged by historians," Mr. Matsuura said, adding that UNESCO's General Conference had unanimously approved a project to research and analyze the underlying causes, forms and consequences of the slave trade and slavery.

UNESCO designated 23 August to commemorate the 1791 Bois-Cayman insurrection in Santo Domingo (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), the event the agency considers a historic factor in the origin of the process that led to the abolition of slavery.

Slavery and other issues will be addressed at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held from 31 August to 7 September in Durban, South Africa. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson will serve as the Secretary-General of the meeting.